We’re not sure if this is good or bad news for Valentine’s Day, but a new study by evolutionary researchers at Michigan State University has found settling for “Mr OK right now” is better than waiting for “Mr Perfect.”
The researchers went right back to the first humans, and found our basic driver is to take the safest option, when stakes are high, and what could be higher than whether or not we will mate?
“Primitive humans were likely forced to bet on whether or not they could find a better mate,” said Chris Adami, MSU professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and co-author of the paper.
“They could either choose to mate with the first, potentially inferior, companion and risk inferior offspring, or they could wait for Mr. or Ms. Perfect to come around,” he said. “If they chose to wait, they risk never mating.”
Often this happened, as finding the so-called ‘perfect mate’ is not easy.
And there are many Sydneysiders who might argue the same thing is going on here, right now. Too many are waiting for the perfect person, and forgoing a great person right in front of them right now. Subsequently the number of women in their late 30’s desperately trying to find a mate to have children with has soared.
The risk, whether now or back then, is that mating never actually occurs. We spend a lifetime looking for perfection (and often suffering a lonely somewhat isolated existence), and never actually engaging in life or a real relationship, and therefore never mating.
The study looked at risk taking behaviour and concluded the following are the biggest influencers when risks are involved:
1) If the decision is a once in a lifetime event ( e.g. getting married or having a child), we are more risk averse – and tend to wait it out longer, (and possibly miss out altogether).
2)The smaller the community we live in ( not the overall population size), the more risk averse we are. So in other words, if you tend to hang out with a small bunch of people rather than have hundreds of friends, you’re likely to be more risk averse.
3)Our own individual evolution can greatly influence our risk profile as adults. Some people are just more likely to take bigger risks than others – think about parachuting. Some love it, some wouldn’t do it for all the money in the world. Some marry 5 times, some never take the risk.
So the bottom line this Valentines Day? Take a closer look at the one you’re with, as they may just be a better bet as a forever person than you think.
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